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Dispatches

The latest buzz from the bee world; Boston’s Fenway Park hits 100; a London shoe company makes its pointe; art runs amok at an ancient Thai temple; shipping out to sea with Billy Campbell

BOSTON

FIELD DAY
Major League Baseball’s oldest park turns 100

DANA VAN FLEET remembers being invited by a friend who worked at Boston’s Fenway Park to check out a luxury suite one night after a game. He doesn’t get inside the park very often — he’s usually pouring beers in his family’s bar across the street, the Cask ‘n’ Flagon, which is always packed with Fenway faithful on game nights — so he jumped at the chance.

While the burly Van Fleet is not the sentimental type, he says it felt like being in a cathedral after Mass had let out. “I just sat there thinking how cool it was that Babe Ruth pitched from there, and Ted Williams hit that home run over there, and Carl Yastrzemski batted from there.”

Prepare to hear similarly reverent stories all season, as America’s oldest major-league ballpark marks its 100th anniversary. The first game at Fenway was played on April 20, 1912, the same day Tiger Stadium opened in Detroit. The latter closed in 1999 and was later torn down. Fenway nearly suffered the same fate, but locals raised such a stink that the plans were abandoned. The new owners who took over in 2002 recognized the park’s appeal and made improvements, widening concourses and adding seats and concession stands. More important, the Red Sox won two long-awaited championships that made grown men weep over their fathers’ graves and finally quieted the taunts of any Yankees fans with the temerity to set foot in the Cask.

Every game since 2003 has been a sellout, but visitors can still take tours year round, or buy one of 300 same-day tickets that are made available two and a half hours before the first pitch, at the little-noticed Gate C. As for the park’s centennial, it’ll be commemorated with, among other things, “Throwback Days,” during which players wear period uniforms, and, better still, an open house on April 19. “People from around the world come to Boston just to go to Fenway,” says Van Fleet. “If not for a game, then for a tour. Or just to take a picture.” Or hoist a beer across the street. —JON MARCUS

ILLUSTRATIONS BY PETER OUMANSKI

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